Swamped with campaign mailings? We’ll take ’em

Lest you need reminding, Election Day is 26 days away. Candidates and their supporters are knocking on your door, calling you at supper time, and filling your mailbox with campaign literature. We have no way to protect your doors or keep your phone from ringing. But we’re glad to help with the mailbox clutter. As with past elections, we’re collecting campaign literature. Instead of dumping those mailings in the recycle bin (we hope you’re recycling!), send them to us.

Campaign ephemera from 1970s
1970s-era campaign ephemera from our collection.

Our collection of campaign ephemera includes more than 5000 items and dates back to the 1800s. We want to ensure that researchers in 2068 or, heck, 2118 are able to learn a little about today’s campaigns. We’re keen to document campaigns throughout North Carolina for General Assembly, U.S. House, and constitutional amendments. That’s hard to do from our spot here in the Triangle. Please help us. Hold on to those mailers, flyers and voter guides. Then when you can stomach the clutter no longer, send the material our way. The address is:

John Blythe
Assistant Curator
P.O. Box 8890
Wilson Library, CB#3930
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-8890

One final note. We like knowing about the yard signs, particularly ones that strike you as unique. Unfortunately, they take up significant space and it’s hard for us to store them. Before you send us the actual sign, would you mind taking a photo of it and emailing the file to us as an attachment? The address is blythej@email.unc.edu Please remember to tell us where and when you spotted it.

AIDS Memorial Quilt panel visits UNC; an NCC photographic collection provides context

AIDS quilt panel display
AIDS Memorial Quilt panel display in the UNC Student Union

Thanks to the efforts of Carolina undergraduate Elizabeth Trefney, UNC is privileged to be hosting an exhibit featuring a panel from the historic AIDS Memorial Quilt. The panel will be on display in the Carolina Student Union Building through January 31. The exhibit serves as a powerful reminder of the devastating global impact of HIV/AIDS, a point also emphasized by a collection of photographs in the North Carolina Collection’s Photographic Archives.

Trefney’s interest in coordinating the Student Union exhibit is both universal and personal: She wanted to remind the UNC community of those whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS, and in particular to honor her late uncle, Jeremy Trefney (1957-1988), who passed away due to complications from HIV and is memorialized on a panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The quilt panel’s presence also celebrates the role of UNC’s School of Medicine and other medical research facilities in making groundbreaking advances in HIV/AIDS treatment.

The Jerome Friar Collection

Coincidentally, the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives in the Wilson Special Collections Library holds a collection of photographs that contains images of the quilt on the National Mall in Washington, DC on the Mall, starting with its origins in 1987 and depicting its subsequent periodic display through the late 1990s.

National Mall AIDS Quilt display, 1987
Demonstrations: AIDS: “AIDS quilt on mall,” 11 October 1987 (The first time the AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed on the National Mall.) Photograph by Jerome Friar Image from P0090/0586 – Black-and-White Kodak TMY 5053 35mm Roll Film

The photos were made by Jerome Friar, a North Carolina native and photographer who worked in DC in the 1980s and 90s. Friar worked for a stock photography group called Impact Visuals, which provided timely and relevant images to social justice organizations for use in their publications. (Our younger readers may be surprised to learn that such a service was necessary in pre-Internet days.)

AIDS Memorial Quilt display, National Mall
Demonstrations: AIDS: “AIDS quilt on mall,” 11 October 1989. Photograph by Jerome Friar. Image from P0090/0589: Color 35mm Mounted Slide

The Jerome Friar Collection contains approximately 240 (on 13 different rolls of film) images of the quilt on the National Mall. The images taken on October 11, 1987, 1989, 1992, and circa 1995-1997 show how the quilt’s display evolved as the numbers of HIV/AIDS victims grew, as the disease became more widely diagnosed/recognized, and as some of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS began to recede.

AIDS Quilt display on National Mall
Demonstrations: AIDS: “AIDS quilt on mall,” 11 October 1992. Photo by Jerome Friar. Image from P0090/0605 – Black-and-White Kodak 5063 TX 35mm Roll Film
Hands linked in front of AIDS Quilt display
Demonstrations: AIDS: “AIDS quilt on mall,” 11 October 1992. Photo by Jerome Friar. Image from P0090/0607 – Black-and-White Kodak 5063 TX 35mm Roll Film

Friar was most likely assigned to cover the quilt when it was first displayed on the National Mall in 1987 because it was one of the first large public events organized by AIDS activists. In addition to the images of the quilt, Friar’s photographs also depict numerous HIV/AIDS-related demonstrations organized by groups such as ACT-UP, intended to raise awareness of the disease among politicians in Washington in the 1980s and 90s.

Activists holding signs and shouting
Friar’s photographs of HIV/AIDS-related activism span the 1980s and 90s. Photograph by Jerome Friar. Image from P0090/0587 – Black-and-White Kodak 5053 TMY 35mm Roll Film
hands flipping through envelopes of photographs
Friar’s photographs are available for research in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

A rare opportunity

If you’re on or near the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, don’t miss the chance to see the quilt panel while it’s in the Student Union, through January 31.

Photographs from the Jerome Friar Collection are available for research in the Wilson Special Collections Library at any time. Come visit us!

“. . . to arouse the dozing conscience of our nation.”

This photograph by Herald-Sun staff photographer Jim Thornton appeared on the front page of the 17 February 1960 issue of The Durham Morning Herald. Pictured here is a scan made from the original negative, shown without cropping.
This photograph by Herald-Sun staff photographer Jim Thornton appeared on the front page of the 17 February 1960 issue of The Durham Morning Herald. Pictured here is a scan made from the original negative, shown without cropping.

A few days ago on January 9th, The Herald-Sun published a story online titled, “When Martin Luther King Jr. came to Durham.”  The article included a photograph of King and others walking on Durham’s West Main Street on February 16, 1960.  They were on their way to the F. W. Woolworth & Company lunch counter, which the store had kept closed after the February 8th sit-in by North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) students protesting against segregated seating.  That protest came on the heels of the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in at Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1st.

The North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives is the home of The Herald-Sun negatives.  There are two sets of negatives in the collection that document King’s 1960 trip to Durham: twelve negatives by Jim Thornton of King’s walk to Woolworth’s, and twenty negatives attributed to Harold Moore (based upon a caption in The Durham Sun) that depict two views of sidewalk picketers and twenty-one negatives of King visit to White Rock Baptist Church.

Photographer Jim Thorton's selected negative, which was not published, of Martin Luther King and others as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others walked to Woolworth's.
Photographer Jim Thorton’s selected negative, which was not published, of Martin Luther King and others as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others walked to Woolworth’s.

The above negative by Thornton has a punch-hole beneath the image area, which typically designates the photographer’s or editor’s choice images.  Neither The Durham Morning Herald nor The Durham Sun published that view.  Instead, the latter published a cropped view of the following negative . . . removing the young bystander of history on the far left.

The full frame of Jim Thornton's published photograph of Rev. Douglas Moore, pastor of Asbury Temple Methodist Church; Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Ralph Abernathy; and Lacy Streeter, North Carolina College student and president of the NCC chapter of the NAACP.
The full frame of Jim Thornton’s published photograph of Rev. Douglas Moore, pastor of Asbury Temple Methodist Church; Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Ralph Abernathy; and Lacy Streeter, North Carolina College student and president of the NCC chapter of the NAACP.

During the evening, King spoke at a filled-to-capacity White Rock Baptist Church.  King’s speech has been dubbed informally his “Fill Up the Jails” sermon.  As The Durham Sun reported:

‘Let us not fear going to jail if the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights.’  Negroes must be willing ‘to fill up the jails of the South’ to gain their point. . . . Maybe it will take this willingness to stay in jail to arouse the dozing conscience of our nation.’

Martin Luther King, Jr. during his speech at White Rock Baptist Church on 16 February 1960.
Martin Luther King, Jr. during his speech at White Rock Baptist Church on 16 February 1960.

Artifact of the Month: Audubon’s Great Carolina Wren

This sheet showing the “Great Carolina Wren”, from John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, published in 1826-1832, is in the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It came to the University with a bequest from Josephine and Mangum Weeks in 1981, one of 76 prints from Audubon’s astonishing publication. This print is the first of several that the North Carolina Collection will feature on its website.

The Birds of America is one of the pinnacles of book making. In the first place, it was printed on “elephant folio” paper, entire sheets of paper in the standard size for paper at that time, about 39 1/2 X 26 1/2 inches. Between 1757 and 1784, James Whatman I and his son James II had developed a process at their mill near Maidstone, England, for making heavy smooth paper of this size. By 1826 this paper, usually folded into smaller sizes, had become a staple for printing fine details of new type-faces, maps, technical drawings, and hand-colored pictures in books. Audubon eventually engaged two London printers, Robert Havell and his son Robert Jr., to use the full size of these sheets to reproduce his illustrations of American birds. It was the most elaborate and intricate such production ever attempted. Even as the project proceeded, lithography was supplanting engraving as the technique of choice for illustrated books. Audubon had caught a wave of etching and engraving at its crest.

Eventually fewer than 200 copies of the 435 elephant folio pages were printed and each was hand-colored in the Havells’ shop. During the more than six years it took to finish this task, the sheets were issued in sets of five (67 sets in all to make the total). Subscribers included scientific societies, universities, and wealthy people in America and Europe, including the kings of France and England. Most subscribers had the sheets bound in London into four volumes of 100 sheets each (with 135 for the final volume), which were then shipped separately in tin boxes at intervals of a year or more.

Audubon insisted on using the full size of the paper in part because he intended to illustrate each bird, even the largest, in life size. Having committed himself to such large sheets, he often made use of the space available to depict his subjects grouped and also engaged in characteristic behavior. Even so, most small birds were printed from plates that were much smaller than the elephant folio sheets. In each set of five sheets, only the first used a copper plate the size of the paper; the second used a plate half that size, printed in the middle of the paper; and the remaining three used quarter-sized plates, so that half the width and height of each sheet around the centered image was left blank. UNC’s sheet with the Great Carolina Wren is an example of one of these small prints, suitable for small birds.

Like all other sheets in the Weeks’ collection, the Great Carolina Wren is no longer bound. At some time in its first 100 years this sheet had several inches of the blank paper around the image trimmed away in order to frame the image in a more balanced way. Although the trimming improved its presentation, it certainly reduced the value of this print. None of the other sheets in the Weeks’ collection, with one exception, has been trimmed so much. Despite its reduced monetary value, this example of Audubon’s Great Carolina Wren is in superb condition.

The two birds and the flower are compelling in several ways. For me, most important is the birds’ behavior. It is obviously early springtime, with the red buckeye in bloom and the male wren mounted on high to belt out his song. His full throat, fanned wings, and tense tail catch the bird’s stance so perfectly that his song almost bursts from the page. Audubon’s account of this species, in the first of his five-volume Ornithological Biography, published in 1831 soon after the elephant folio sheets, describes the song as “Come-to-me, come-to-me.” There can be no doubt that Audubon imagined the male addressing this fervor to his mate. We see her, coy as are many female birds, slipping through the branches below the male, apparently intent on her own pursuits.

The “dwarf buckeye, Aesculus pavia”, as Audubon notes in his text, favors “swampy ground” along the southeastern coastal plain. Audubon no doubt found it with the wrens in Louisiana at Bayou Sara along the Mississippi well above New Orleans. It was here, during 1821 or 1822 near Oakley Plantation (now the Audubon Memorial Park outside St. Francisville), that Audubon must have painted these wrens. His teen-aged assistant, James Mason, probably did the buckeye, although the overall composition was surely Audubon’s. At any rate, decades later Mason claimed that Audubon had promised to acknowledge his contribution in painting many of the plants in the backgrounds of the birds, although Audubon never mentioned Mason on the sheets for The Birds of America.

This dwarf buckeye is now usually called the red buckeye, to distinguish it from other dwarf buckeyes, although its scientific name remains the same. As for the bird, Audubon was the first to classify this species correctly with other wrens, by including it in the genus Troglodytes. Soon afterwards it was allocated within the wrens to the genus, Thryothorus. Alexander Wilson, Audubon’s predecessor in American ornithology, had recognized the bird’s similarity to other wrens but was confused by Linnaeus’s classification and, in his American Ornithology published in 1810-1814, placed it with creepers, in the genus Certhia. Surprisingly, the species had not been mentioned before by any American naturalist, with one exception and only in a cursory way. Wilson’s friend, William Bartram, had included it in his list of birds encountered between Pennsylvania and Florida in his classic Travels through North & South Carolina, etc., published in 1791. Confused about what kind of bird it was, he calls it “Motacilla Caroliniana (regulus magnus) the great wren of Carolina.”

Bartram included an asterisk beside this wren to indicate that it arrived in Pennsylvania during spring and returned southward after nesting. Wilson, however, could not confirm, “based on my own observations,” that it then nested in Pennsylvania. Audubon added from his experience that the species extended northward “nearly to Pittsburgh” and that a few were seen near the Atlantic coast as far north as New York. He himself found a nest “in a swamp” in New Jersey a few miles from Philadelphia. Nowadays, in contrast, the Carolina Wren nests as far north as Connecticut and occasionally Massachusetts. Like a number of other species in these days of global warming, the Carolina Wren has been spreading northward.

When teaching Avian Biology to undergraduates at UNC before my retirement, I used to make a lame joke, “How did the Carolina Wren get its name? It isn’t any more characteristic of North Carolina than anywhere else in the southeast, and it isn’t even sky blue!” The answer, as we have seen, is that Bartram associated it with his travels in the Carolinas, no doubt both North and South. Because it is such a drab, retiring bird, even the most adventuresome naturalists had overlooked it throughout the colonial period. Wilson was the first to notice its quixotic behavior, “disappearing into holes and crevices … then reappearing”, but Audubon’s image is the first, and perhaps still the greatest, likeness of its boisterous song and frenetic skulking. Despite its ubiquitous presence around homes throughout North Carolina, the Carolina Wren still escapes notice too often. Audubon to this day ranks as one of its keenest observers.

R. Haven Wiley is an emeritus professor in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Pa is Goin’ To Take Us to the Big Rowan County Fair

Promotional post card for the 1909 Rowan County Fair.
Promotional post card for the 1909 Rowan County Fair.

If this year was 1909, then today would have been the day to head to Salisbury for the first day of the Rowan County Fair.  Being that this is 2017, the 66th annual Rowan County Fair was September 15th through 23rd.  That means the county’s first annual fair was in 1951—at least in its current incarnation.   Fortunately there’s an even longer history to the county fair’s history, because 108 years ago I would have asked my dad to go see Strobel’s Airship!

Advertisement for the 1909 Rowan County Fair in the September 20th issue of The Salisbury Evening Post.
Advertisement for the 1909 Rowan County Fair in the September 20th issue of The Salisbury Evening Post.

A Tale of Two Maps

One of the first things a North Carolinian student learns is that there are 100 counties in our state. What the young student may not learn, however, is that it took over 200 years for those counties and their borders to be finalized. During that time, many counties saw the rise and fall of “dividers” within their borders who sought to add to that final accounting.

Such was the case in 1868 when, at the end of what proved to be a transformative year for North Carolina (and indeed the nation), Halifax County saw the rise of a short-lived and, for today’s researcher, mysterious division effort. The scattered, sparse evidence for this brief sentiment is best illuminated by two unique hand-drawn maps. These two maps of Halifax were drawn at nearly the exact same time: one that shows the entire county, with newly-created townships (as of 1868), while the other shows a new county called Roanoke that was to be created from the lower southeastern part of Halifax.

This post will discuss the maps, their creators, and analyze why they were drawn. Since documentary evidence for each of the maps is lacking, political and cultural circumstances swirling at the end of 1868, particularly in Halifax, will illuminate why they were created and their meaning. Information about those associated with both sides of the question of division in Halifax shows that they were likely on opposite ends of the political spectrum, with those who sought to split the county being conservative Democrats.

The map of Roanoke County

Roanoke Map
Map of proposed county of Roanoke by M.L. Venable, 1868 (click to enlarge)

The map in question is simply rendered, entitled “Roanoke County” and signed “By ML Venable Dec 1868.” What is represented is clearly the lower southeastern part of Halifax, split from the area shown as “13 Bridges” near Enfield to the county line at Conoconnara Swamp. However, as any student of state history knows, there is no Roanoke County in North Carolina. Who drew this map, and why? And how did it end up in the North Carolina Collection?

The mapmaker, Morton Lewis Venable, hailed from a family in Oxford, Granville County, where he, like his father and brothers, worked as an educator and school administrator. Newspapers confirm that he was associated with the Oxford Male Academy and Tar River Male Academy early in his career. Work at the Vine Hill Military Academy in Scotland Neck brought Venable to Halifax County, where he was advertised as principal of the institution as early as January 1861.

Back of the Roanoke County map (click to enlarge)

With the aid of a bit of sleuthing and digging into Southern Historical Collection records, markings on the back of the map reveal more to us about its origins and ownership while providing clues as to how it came to Wilson Library Special Collections. Documentation does not exist to explain the connection between Venable and the commission of the map. However, signatures on the back reveal a clue: it was once in the hands of Dr. Eugene F. Speed and Sallie Speed. These were the children of prominent citizen John H. Speed, and the Speed family lived in Halifax and Edgecombe counties.

But rather than coming to Wilson Library via the Speeds, the map was obtained via a donation of the papers of the Smith family, specifically Peter Evans Smith. The Smiths were also prominent in Scotland Neck and the region. Peter Smith’s father, William Ruffin Smith, Jr., was heavily involved in Scotland Neck politics, serving as town commissioner for a time, and, most importantly for this question, served for many years on the Board of Trustees for Vine Hill Academy. He was also the school’s treasurer. Indeed, Vine Hill Academy appears to be the magnet that brought Venable into contact with the Speeds and Smiths.

What we can say with this information is that prominent white men around Scotland Neck in 1868 were connected to the drawing of this map of Roanoke County, and therefore involved in the question surrounding Halifax’s possible division.

The map of Halifax County

Map of Halifax County and townships by A.L. Pierce, 1868 (click to enlarge)

Yet another map of the area was drawn at the close of 1868, and on it, Halifax County is intact, not split. Frustratingly, only a portion of the map has survived. The inscription is revealing, though:

“A map of Halifax County made in pursuance of an Order of the Board of Commissioners of said County. Dec. 24th 1868. A.L. Pierce. This Map divides the County into eight townships supposed to be the most convenient practicable. Namely — Arcadea, Buchavia, Calidonia, Formosa, Dalmatia, [Etria], Palmyra, and Rapides, the boundaries of which are filed with this Map in the Office of the Clerk of Commissioners, and a copy of boundaries and Map also forwarded to the Secretary of State at Raleigh N.C.”

Information about the mapmaker, Albert L. Pierce, is somewhat hard to come by, but records indicate he was named Postmaster in Weldon in October 1859. Newspaper notices prove that he was elected in January 1868 as a Halifax town commissioner. In May 1868, he was elected county surveyor, although an ad for his surveying work appeared in the Weldon paper in 1856, indicating that he had been doing such work for a while.

Some pieces of information give clues to his political leanings, which could indicate which side of the division debate he stood on. One is a newspaper clipping from September 1868 where an A.L. Pierce is named President of the Grant and Colfax “Central Club” of Halifax. The notice declares that one intention of the club is to, “deprecate all the sayings, doings and actions of the copperhead Democratic party, and will try and get others to do the same at all hazards.” Another listed in this club was Charles Webb, very likely the same publisher of the antebellum paper The Roanoke Republican. Records prove another connection: Charles Webb was one also of the new County Commissioners elected in 1868.

This available information shows that the elected representatives of Halifax County were certainly not in favor of splitting the county.

What was happening in 1868?

To best understand the maps, the events of the year must be used for context. Numerous transformative political events taking place at this time included:

  1. The restoration of the former Confederate States to the Union, contingent upon passing new state constitutions ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship and equal protection to former slaves.
  2. The election of William Woods Holden, Republican, as Governor of North Carolina.
  3. The election of Ulysses S. Grant, Republican, as President of the United States.

The Constitutional Convention of 1868

The convention, held January – March 1868, was overwhelmingly Republican and included fifteen black delegates. The polarization of politics in North Carolina, Democrat versus Republican, was driven to a height. To say that the party divide was intractable would be an understatement: the rallying cry for the national Republican Party that year was, “Emancipation! Enfranchisement! Reconstruction!”; North Carolina Democrats were fundamentally opposed to all three.

Of special relevance to our question here about county politics: this new document also created a totally new system of townships and a Board of Commissioners for each county, with five elected seats. The new Commissioners were tasked with dividing the counties into townships and reporting back to the General Assembly by January 1869; this provides one explanation for why we have maps like these from that time. The new constitution approved in April not only enfranchised blacks, but also restored voting rights to former Confederates. The new boards gave men who had previously been excluded due to race, party affiliation, and/or wealth the opportunity to become involved in politics.

By all accounts, the enfranchisement of African Americans, which was now demanded by Congress, was a very serious threat to white conservatives. In Many Excellent People, Paul D. Escott explains that the Democratic offensive during Reconstruction was aimed at the local government: “Control of county affairs has been the foundation of North Carolina’s aristocratic social order…Reconstruction had threatened the whole system.” Considering the impact and interpretation of the new constitution provides us excellent context for the two maps of Halifax County.

Halifax County in 1868

What were the racial demographics in Halifax in 1868, and what could the changes forced by the new constitution mean for prominent white citizens of Scotland Neck? The numbers at play are important to understanding what likely drove the conversation over dividing the county. Antebellum Halifax had some of the highest numbers of slaves, but also the highest number of free blacks of all counties in the state. In 1860, black property holders in Halifax outnumbered other counties in the Roanoke Valley by sixfold. The 1870 census calculated 6,418 whites and 13,990 blacks. Black citizens also outnumbered whites in the new townships:

  • Arcadia/Halifax: 604 white and 2294 black
  • Buckaria: 668 white and 1114 black
  • Caledonia: 503 white and 1615 black
  • Dalmatia: 1009 white and 1787 black
  • Ertruria: 1099 white and 1839 black
  • Formosa: 903 white and 2054 black
  • Palmyra: 832 white and 1513 black
  • Rapides/Weldon: 800 white and 1774 black

Halifax County Board of Commissioners

Halifax County records that could illuminate the conversations and decision-making of this time, for example Board of Commissioner minutes, no longer exist.

One person on the Board is already known to us: Charles Webb, documented to be a Republican. Another way to assume the constitution of the board is to look at the Roanoke News out of Weldon, a conservative paper, who in March 1868 put forward five (Democratic) names for the new board, and none of those ended up being elected.

Walter Clark

In Walter McKenzie Clark’s diaries, published in The Papers of Walter Clark, he wrote: “Nov. 18 – Went to Palmyra Meeting for formation of a new county.” An enigmatic statement, but essentially the only definitive clue that a meeting about this issue of dividing Halifax even took place. Therefore, we know that Clark was involved in this discussion, and perhaps then directly involved with the production of Venable’s map of Roanoke. Clark was also an alumnus of Vine Hill. Outside of Clark’s diary entry, only a lone, brief mention in a newspaper confirms the meeting:

The Charlotte Democrat, November 17, 1868

Walter Clark was a prominent figure in Halifax and the state. Clark had opened a law office in Scotland Neck in 1867 and was a licensed lawyer. He would go on to become a Justice. We know from correspondence between him and prominent conservatives such as Thomas J. Jarvis and David Schenck around the time of 1868 that he was solicited to work against the “radicals” in the state Congress, specifically some of Halifax’s Republican representatives. One was John H. Renfrow, described by William Allen in his interpretation of the history of Halifax as a carpetbagger. This is another clue as to the political divisions at work when the topic of division came up: the people who were likely at this meeting shared the same political and social views as Clark.

The only people who we can say with certainty were at this meeting, in any case, were Walter Clark and (probably) M.L. Venable. But then, just as mysteriously as the subject came up, no mention of splitting Halifax came up again. Whether the proposal made it to the General Assembly, as the newspaper clipping above claims, is unclear.

Other county division initiatives in 1868

Reports in newspapers reveal that there were conversations about dividing other counties that year. March 1868 saw a petition from 1200 citizens asking that a new county be formed out of Rowan, Iredell and Cabarrus. In November, The Western Vindicator reported that “a movement is on foot looking to the formation of a new county from portion of Rutherford and Cleveland.” One that did come to fruition was the formation of Dare out of Currituck, Hyde, and Tyrrell. This was first reported in December 1868.

In his article “County Division; A Forgotten Issue in Antebellum North Carolina Politics,” Thomas E. Jeffrey says, “County division was one of the most important, and certainly one of the most enduring, of…local issues.” From the actions and debates occurring in 1868, we see this issue remained a reality throughout Reconstruction.

As with many of the other moves towards division, Roanoke County was quickly lost to history. Thankfully, though, we have one document pointing to its brief existence in the minds of some Halifax residents.

Artifact of the Month: Nurse Cape


Did you know that the design of the nurse’s uniform evolved from the nun’s habit? At one time the convent was a common place for the sick to receive care, and the nuns did the nursing.

The cape was a standard part of the nurse’s apparel, a practice that endured into the 1980s. Our recently donated cape was worn by Nancy Hege Paar, a member of the UNC School of Nursing’s fifth class of Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates in 1959. Like many such capes, it is gray and mid-length. It appears to be made of wool, including the lining. The lining is a blue-gray, perhaps the closest match to Carolina Blue available from the Snowhite Garment Sales Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The initials “U. N. C.” on the collar further brand the cape.

Photo of Nancy Hege from 1959 Yackety Yack
Nancy Hege, 1959 Yackety Yack

The nurse’s cap was originally employed to keep a nurse’s hair neatly in place and to present a modest and orderly appearance. In the latter part of the 19th century, the form of the cap evolved to signify a nurse’s school. The cap became a symbol of the profession, often shrinking to be a token rather than a functional piece of clothing.

Today, both cape and cap are less common components of a nurse’s apparel. Scrubs have replaced them, providing a unisex uniform for both women and the increasing number of men in the profession.

Photo of UNC Nursing students, 1959
UNC School of Nursing students, 1959. From the UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

Malcolm X Debates Floyd McKissick in 1963

Numerous formative events took place in the first months of 1963 that shaped the trajectory of the Civil Rights Movement, and a number of those took place in North Carolina. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was especially active, and in January of that year, it organized a tour that brought writer James Baldwin through the state. In April 1963, CORE’s Floyd McKissick, the attorney and civil rights leader, organized a debate between himself and Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X over racial integration, and he sought to locate this event in his home of Durham, finally settling on a city-owned facility. The very afternoon of the event, however, they were suddenly left looking for a location when the city pulled its support. The shake-up at the last minute not only required a change in venue, but as options were quickly explored, the opportunity also arose for the two to debate publicly on the University of North Carolina campus the next day. This second debate is rarely mentioned today, but was covered in the UNC student newspaper at the time. Of additional interest, the Durham debate was documented by Herald-Sun photographer Harold Moore, and his unpublished photographs provide astonishing glimpses into an event that has received only brief attention.

Setting the Stage

The theme of the April debate was to be integration of the races versus separatism, with Floyd McKissick arguing the former, Malcolm X the latter. Malcolm X had been touring, recruiting for the Nation of Islam, and giving speeches that entire spring season. He was in Columbia, SC just a day before he arrived in Durham. McKissick was not only friendly with Black Muslims in Durham, but he served as attorney for both the Nation of Islam and the NAACP. In 1963, McKissick was elected Chairman of CORE.

When the debate was first proposed, both Duke University and North Carolina College (now NCCU) were considered, however the offer was rejected by both institutions. Eventually, a public auditorium was settled upon for the evening of Thursday, April 18th.

“Durham’s Black Muslims,” The Daily Tar Heel, April 10, 1963

The Nation of Islam and Malcolm X were frequent topics in the spring 1963 issues of the UNC student paper The Daily Tar Heel. March 5th saw the start of a four-part series by Henry Mayer dedicated to Black Muslims in America. In anticipation of the debate to be held just days away, the April 10, 1963 issue featured a full-page article called “Durham’s Black Muslims” by DTH editor Wayne King with photographs by Jim Wallace. The article features a photograph of Muhammad’s Mosque of Islam at 518 East Pettigrew in Durham, a center for Nation of Islam in the city, formed just the year before in 1962. The article also has a photograph of Marken’s Business Mart, listed in the 1963 Durham city directory as a car wash owned by Kenneth Murray at 402 East Pettigrew. The caption states that this establishment “may be financially affiliated with the movement.” The article names Murray, also known as Kenneth X, as minister of the Durham mosque, and a protégé of Baltimore’s Isaiah Karriem, a high-ranking figure in the movement.

Malcolm X arrived in Durham on April 18th to word that the debate was in jeopardy. At the last minute, their scheduled appearance at the city-owned Hill Recreation Center was abruptly canceled, their permit revoked by city officials. In a statement, Parks and Recreation head Harold Moses said that the Durham mosque that had scheduled the event had “misrepresented” themselves as a religious organization.

“Black Muslim Unit Denied Center’s Use,” Durham Morning Herald, April 19, 1963

Word spread fast and people took quick action. Wayne King, UNC student, interviewed Malcolm X on the phone about the cancellation, to which he responded, “the wrath of God would be called down upon the city of Durham for withholding the truth from the Negro people.”

To protest the denial of Malcolm X’s presence on her campus, NCC student Joycelyn McKissick, daughter of Floyd, transported him in her own car to a space where he could speak to her fellow students, earning her suspension from school for the transgression.

“Durham Hall Denied to Malcolm X,” The Daily Tar Heel, April 19, 1963

Black Muslims in Durham immediately rallied to provide a substitute venue for that night, albeit in a smaller, privately-owned space, and UNC student Henry Mayer helped to organize a debate on the same topic in Chapel Hill the next day.

The Debates

The debate in Durham did successfully take place on Thursday, April 18th, despite the last-minute change in location. The site was a place known locally as “Page’s Auditorium” at 1102 South Roxboro Road, a building owned by Wilbur W. Page. It was part of the building that also operated as Pine Street Taxi Company and Service Station. The Durham papers Morning Herald and Sun sent photographer Harold Moore to Page’s Auditorium that night. The Sun reported that about 150 people showed up for the debate on Roxboro Road, including many Duke students. Only a handful of articles covered the event, though, as what was published focused mainly on the controversy surrounding the location, and only used a head shot of Malcolm X. The following photographs, therefore, having never been in print, provide astounding views into a rare event in Durham’s history. The original negatives are part of the Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection.

 

 

 

“‘X’ Says Negroes Will Pass Whites,” The Daily Tar Heel, April 21, 1963

 

The hastily-arranged April 19th debate in Chapel Hill was first slated for Carroll Hall, then planned for Howell Hall, and finally, due to 1600 people overcrowding the building, moved to Memorial Hall. It was all organized by DTH journalist Henry Mayer and the Carolina Forum. Although photographs of this debate were not published in the student paper, and perhaps none exist, Bill Dowell does summarize some of the content in his April 21, 1963 DTH article. He quotes Malcolm X from that night: “The difference between liberals and conservatives is that the liberals have developed the art of using the Negro.”

The April 27th issue of the Carolina Times, their offices just down the street from the Muhammad’s Mosque of Islam on Pettigrew, announced, “Crowds Hear Muslim Debate: Throngs Attend in Durham, UNC; City Nixes Hall.” Considering that this article appeared on the front page, it is of note that editor Louis Austin also had a stated antipathy for his city’s Black Muslims.

Other noteworthy events that same month provide important context for these two debates: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birmingham Campaign began in early April and he was jailed on April 12th. Two days before the debate in Durham, King penned his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” On April 24th, Durham’s East End Elementary, a black school, was burned to the ground by an arsonist. Protests sparked when the dislocated students were not allowed to even temporarily attend another school with white children.

A Belated Happy 100th to JFK

We’re a day late in marking the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. But, on the principle of better late than never (that’s always been my view on gift giving and receipt), North Carolina Miscellany and its sister blog A View to Hugh share with you images of the 35th President.

Many of the North Carolina Collection’s images of Kennedy are found in the Hugh Morton Collection. Morton, less than four years younger than JFK, photographed Kennedy on several occasions. The photo above features Kennedy, at the time a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, addressing the North Carolina Caucus at the 1956 Democratic National Convention.

In 1961, as President, Kennedy visited Chapel Hill and spoke at UNC’s University Day celebration in Kenan Stadium. Morton was among the photographers who snapped photographs that day.

The North Carolina Collection’s photographic archivist, Stephen Fletcher, has shared the stories behind some of Morton’s photographs of Kennedy on A View to Hugh.

The North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives includes the works of other photographers who captured Kennedy on film. Burlington Times-News staff photographer Edward J. McCauley covered a Kennedy campaign appearance in Greensboro in 1960. The future president appeared with Terry Sanford (to his left and campaigning for Governor), Governor Luther H. Hodges and Senator Sam J. Ervin.

Photographs of Kennedy and his 1960 Presidential campaign opponent Richard Nixon helped the Charlotte Observer‘s Don Sturkey win recognition as National Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1961. In the photo below Kennedy is joined by U.S. Congressman Herbert C. Bonner and Sanford on a campaign stop at East Carolina University in Greenville.

Copyright is held by Don Sturkey. All use requires permission of Don Sturkey.

Word has it that our collections may include images of Kennedy captured by different photographers at the same event. One photographer may have even included another photographer in his shot. That’s for you to verify. Happy hunting!

The WWII History of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

During WWII, keeping up morale for American soldiers was a major national concern. The Library Section of the U.S. War Department, and later an organization called the Council on Books in Wartime, figured out a way to print contemporary titles inexpensively in a small paperback format that would also be easy to carry. The books were printed on presses used for magazines, so the text was set in two columns and each printed page usually included the text of four books. Once printed, the pages were cut apart horizontally. This process created paperbacks that were wider than they were tall. The covers of the Armed Services Editions (ASE) showed an image of the original book cover and noted whether the edition was abridged. Most were not. 

Over the course of the war, 1,322 books (some of which were reprints) were selected to be Armed Service Editions. The list of titles comprised many genres and styles, including fiction, nonfiction, plays, and poetry. It included contemporary literature as well as classics. Though the Army and Navy had to approve the titles selected by the Council on Books in Wartime, there was much less censorship of the titles than might be expected. The program handed out more than one million copies of ASE paperbacks, each free to service members.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Armed Services Edition

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, standard edition

One of the books chosen for publication as an ASE was Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith worked for years as a playwright before writing her first novel, which was wildly successful. She wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn while living in Chapel Hill, but based the novel on her childhood in Brooklyn. This story of a young girl growing up in the tenements was surprisingly popular with soldiers, who sent lots of fan mail to Betty Smith in Chapel Hill. According to Michael Hackenberg’s “The Armed Services Editions in Publishing History,” Smith actually received much more fan mail from soldiers than she did from civilians, even though her book was very popular at home.

Because of its popularity, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of about 100 titles chosen for a second printing as an ASE. In their fan letters, some soldiers wrote that Smith’s book reminded them of their own childhoods in Brooklyn.

Letter to Betty Smith from September 23, 1944, Betty Smith Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library

In a fan letter dated September 5, 1944, Charlie Pierce wrote, “I am a soldier some 1,500 miles from my beloved Brooklyn of which you wrote, so I know something of loneliness. Your book brought many hours of happiness to me – it was so human and so understanding.” Yet another soldier, Frank Ebey, called it simply, “that splendid book,” in his letter from September 1944. Perhaps it was the humanity that Pierce notes, more than a sense of place, which caused A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to resonate with so many ASE readers.

Betty Smith was not the only author with North Carolina ties to have a work published as an ASE. The program printed two of Thomas Wolfe’s novels, Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River.

Look Homeward, Angel, Armed Services Edition

Of Time and the River, Armed Services Edition